In fact, House Republicans won in 12 districts where Trump lost. (source)

This obviously comes on the heels of the predictions that House elections would be bad for Republicans due to Trump's negatives.

Is there a coherent explanation for this, or was this just a disparate set of local idiosyncratic issues?

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    The obvious answer is that some people liked the Republican congress candidate in their district but didn't like Donald Trump. What other answer would you expect? It's not like people are forced to give all their votes to people from the same party. – Philipp Nov 28 '16 at 16:55
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    @Phillip and those that voted to close. There are socio-economic trends that capture this fairly well and explain the disparity. This is not opinion based and can be empirically demonstrated. – K Dog Nov 28 '16 at 18:40

First, no Senate candidate from a party other than the state presidential winner won. This was the lowest ticket splitting election ever in result. Usually at least some Senate candidates are able to differentiate themselves enough from the presidential result to win. For example, Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota won in 2012, even as Romney won the state.

Second, historically it was the Democrats who benefited most from ticket splitting. Conservative Southern Democrats won seats by taking separate positions from the national party. However, only a couple conservative/moderate Democrats remain. More moderate Republicans have had some success in resisting polarization but notice that didn't help any Senate candidates like Mark Kirk and Kelly Ayotte.

Third, some of the criticisms of Donald Trump were aimed at college educated Republicans. He does especially badly with that group and especially well with people with no college. It's also worth noting that college educated Republicans did not like Hillary Clinton either. Thus, it made sense for them to vote against Trump and for a Republican Representative to restrain Clinton. In some areas (mostly suburbs), there are far more college educated Republicans to gain than people with no college to lose.

Fourth, the source is talking about the Minnesota state legislature, not the national legislature. It doesn't really give enough information to say if this is because of reasons local to specific races of Minnesota or to more fundamental reasons like regional demographics. I'm not sure how many federal House Republicans won in districts that Trump lost.

Note that Clinton's voters were concentrated in cities. She won them overwhelmingly while Trump had smaller margins in rural and suburban districts. Since they had similar numbers of votes, math suggests that Trump should have won more districts than Clinton.

The Cook Political Report tracks all Congressional districts and their net presidential vote. They haven't released the 2016 results as I type this, but they should appear on that page when available. The 2014 results are there and show how things were previously. In particular, they show what districts Barack Obama won in 2012 where Republicans won in 2014.

  • Can you wrangle that first sentence into something a little more comprehensible? – K Dog Nov 28 '16 at 22:51

Ticket splitting was a phenomena this year among Trump and more traditional GOP members. While the supporting groups on occasion overlapped, there were some real differences. Where those differences were more pronounced, near large metropolitan suburbs and struggling traditional Democratic enclaves, the differences produced the margin of victory for some down ballot GOP candidates that Trump could not duplicate.

Trump expanded his appeal and base of support into traditional blue collar, Democrat strongholds (although came up short), while not being able to capture the same base of support from outside-big-city suburban "movement" conservatives. Powerlineblog Some hard hitting local advertising also may have come into play (see link).

GOP House candidates also flipped four seats in the Twin Cities suburbs, which have become challenging terrain. Trump got clobbered in these suburban districts, yet GOP candidates won with over 50 percent of the vote in Edina (Dario Anselmo defeated Rep. Ron Erhardt; Trump received 32 percent of the vote); in Shoreview/Arden Hills/Moundsview (Randy Jessup defeated Rep. Barb Yarusso; Trump received 38 percent); in Inver Grove Heights/Mendota Heights/Sunfish Lake (Regina Barr defeated Mary T’Kach in an open seat; Trump received 42 percent); and in St. Paul Park/Cottage Grove (Keith Franke defeated Jen Peterson in an open seat; Trump received 43 percent).

The almost exact same dynamic played out in Pennsylvania. Consider Pat Toomey's and Donald Trump's very different constituent bases and paths to victory. National Review

Chester County holds a portion of the famous “Philadelphia suburbs” that many analysts claimed were the key to this year’s national elections. With about half a million people, encompassing parts of the elite “Main Line,” Chester has the highest average income of any county in the state and the 24th-highest income of all counties in America. Its population grew by 15 percent from 2000 to 2010 and has grown another 3.4 percent since — it is a healthy, wealthy, and bustling place. Politically, Chester has become swing territory. It is ancestrally Republican, and Republicans still hold a five-point registration advantage, but like the rest of the Philadelphia suburbs, Chester has trended Democratic in recent years and has recoiled sharply from some Republicans. In the 2006 Senate race, Democrat Bob Casey beat Republican Rick Santorum by ten points in this county, and in 2008, Barack Obama beat John McCain by nine points. This year in Chester, Toomey performed twelve points better than Trump, winning the county by three points as Trump lost it by nine. That gap fairly well represents the total statewide vote margin between Toomey and Trump. Ticket-splitting was a widespread phenomenon in Pennsylvania this year.

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